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WAKEFIELD — Houdini is a 23-year-old miniature Shetland pony who travels Northeast Nebraska to entertain the young and the old.
He is a trick pony and will entertain anyone from a retirement home to a birthday party.
Along with his handler, Brad Conrad of Ponca, the duo will interact with the crowd showing off Houdini’s tricks.
“I think he is the smartest pony in the world,” Conrad said. “He has 31 different tricks and we try to incorporate all of them in a performance.”
Conrad, along with his wife, Carol, travel to entertain audiences young and old.
“We visit a lot of rest homes,” Conrad said, “but we also do birthday parties, schools, private parties, rodeos, Christmas parties — almost anything.”
Conrad indicated he likes retirement facilities perhaps the best.
“I’m a plumber by trade,” he said. “I do a lot of work at the retirement home in Ponca and there are some lonely residents. It’s just nice to put a smile on their faces and give them a little enjoyment.”
Houdini was trained by a gentleman in Sioux City.
Conrad said the gentleman was a well-known horse trainer, but couldn’t handle bigger horses later in his life.
Houdini is a miniature pony and was much easier to handle. Houdini’s trainer died and the family was looking to get him to a good home.
“The family said they had some offers from circuses and petting zoos, but they wanted him to go to a regular home,” Conrad said. “I had seen him perform and I already have horses, so it just made sense for me to take him.”
Houdini and the family showed Conrad his tricks and the duo developed a friendship.
“It’s been wonderful working with him,” Conrad said. “And I think he likes me back. He’s pretty spoiled but that’s all right.”
Another favorite for Houdini and Conrad is children.
“He really likes the kids,” Conrad said. “He reacts to them and you can just tell he enjoys being around them.”
Conrad also mentioned, with Houdini’s age, their time together may be limited.
“You can’t believe how fast you fall in love with and get to know each other,” Conrad said of Houdini. “We have been together for nearly two years, but I feel like he is a part of me forever. You just have to enjoy the time together.”
Look for the pair at a location around Northeast Nebraska and enjoy the show.
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